By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
Unlike the staff of the Department of Prisons, Special Task Force (STF) personnel, who are a commando unit of the Police which is trained in combat and counter-terrorism, are not equipped to rehabilitate and take care of unarmed prison inmates, the Committee for Protecting the Rights of Prisoners claimed.
The Committee informed thus in a written appeal addressed to the Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, which was also copied to the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, on the situation of prisons and specifically the deployment of STF personnel to prisons. It has been reported that STF personnel have been sent to a number of prisons including Angunakolapelessa and Boossa and that this has also led to protests from inmates.
The Chairman of the Committee, Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera pointed out that even the Bar Association of Sri Lanka which represents the private and unofficial bar had complained about the alleged harassment of lawyers by STF personnel when visiting their clients who are detained.
“STF personnel were deployed after clashes at the Monaragala and Mahara Prisons where several inmates died,” the appeal further added.